The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
(Bloomberg) — The candidate of South Africa’s main opposition party was elected mayor of Johannesburg, ending the ruling African National Congress’s control of the nation’s economic hub as well as the capital, Pretoria, after its worst electoral performance since the end of apartheid.
Herman Mashaba, a 56-year-old cosmetics entrepreneur, was elected as Johannesburg’s mayor on Monday during a often-raucous 11-hour session during which an ANC councilor collapsed and died. His victory, secured with the support of South Africa’s third-biggest opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, means Democratic Alliance mayors run Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, the nation’s second-biggest city, and Nelson Mandela Bay.
The loss of Johannesburg and Pretoria capped a dramatic setback for the ANC, which has dominated South African politics since Nelson Mandela led the party to power in 1994 in the nation’s first democratic elections. It resulted from Aug. 3 local elections when the ANC’s support retained outright majority control in just three of the nation’s eight metropolitan councils. The ANC’s share of the national popular vote fell to 54.5 percent from 62.2 percent in national elections two years earlier, with a series of scandals implicating President Jacob Zuma, an economic slump and high unemployment eroding its urban support.
Herman Mashaba was ridiculed for being a wannabe politician. Tonight elected mayor of the richest commercial city in Africa – Johannesburg
— Sure Kamhunga (@sure_kamhunga) August 22, 2016
“It is a psychological blow to the ANC in a big way,” said Somadoda Fikeni, a politics professor at the University of South Africa in Pretoria. “First you lose a city named after your icon, Nelson Mandela, then you lose the administrative capital, now you lose your economic hub and you are reduced to the periphery.”
Mashaba defeated the ANC’s candidate, Parks Tau, who’d been mayor of Johannesburg since 2011.
The municipalities oversee electricity and water distribution, some roads, parks, libraries and sanitation. Johannesburg, headquarters to the stock exchange and most of South Africa’s largest companies, and Pretoria, where dozens of diplomatic missions are based, have a combined budget of about 81 billion rand ($6 billion) and population of 8.3 million people.
For more on the aftermath of South Africa’s local elections, click here
The rand has gained 2.2 percent against the dollar since the day of the election, the third-best performer of 16 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg.
Allegations that the ANC offered R500,000 bribes in desperate last-ditch bid to retain Joburg city government
A strange thing happened last week during voting for mayor in the hung council of Rustenburg. After a 44-44 first round with a single spoiled ballot, a second round threw up a vote of 46-43 in favour of the incumbent ANC. The opposition EFF/DA alliance were shocked at the outcome and soon whispers of bribery emerged. Similar ugliness erupted on the eve of today’s critical vote for mayorship of Johannesburg. But this time the claims are specific. The EFF has a name and a payoff figure – and is opening a criminal charge of bribery and corruption against a Joburg mayoral committee member. Are these accusations credible? The courts will decide, but the facts are worth revisiting. The ANC has controlled the council – and its massive budgets – since 1994. In this month’s election it fell 15 seats short of retaining control of the 270-seat council. That’s exactly the number of seats smaller parties won – but as the leading opposition party, the DA, has tied up some of those, to retain power the ANC had to win over some EFF members. Were it not for the erratic events in Rustenburg, accusations of vote buying might have been easier to dismiss. The true test of democracy is what happens after long-time incumbents behave once they lose power. – Alec Hogg
By Jeff Wicks
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.